Faith is a Verb... Musings by Pastor Tony May 4, 2018

I’ve been thinking and reading a lot about love lately. God is Love. Paul wrote, “Faith, hope, and love abide; the greatest of these is Love.” Jesus tells us the two great commandments are to love the Lord your God, and to love your neighbor as yourself, which make up the two stained glass windows at the front of our sanctuary. Based on that, the UCC has named a new Vision Statement: “United in Christ’s love, a just world for all,” and has also taken on a new campaign called the 3 Great Loves: Love of Creation, Love of Children, Love of Neighbor. This story-telling campaign is asking churches to send in stories about ways they are already living into this vision.

in  Christianity in a Nutshell, Brazilian Liberation theologian and mystic Leonardo Boff writes that the Trinity--that mathematical conundrum at the heart of Christianity—is so intertwined as to be a single source—Mystery, a single energy-being he calls God-communion-love. Starting with time-before-time, in that instant just before the Big Bang, the Mystery fluctuated rapidly between particles and energy, particles bursting forth in bright sparkles and then resorbed back into an ocean of energy that is source to all, a “Loving Abyss, Nurturer of All, Originating Source of all Being,” which expanded in the Big Bang to create the entire universe. In other words, the entire universe is created out of an infinite supply of Love.[1] We are part of this Creation, carrying that originating energy of the Big Bang in our bodies, formed from the Loving Abyss. Our formational energy is love.

 In All About Love: New Visions, bell hooks states that love is not an innate feeling that we instinctively know what to do with; instead love is an action, or series of actions, that we must learn and practice. Love is an outward action, an expansion of self, for the spiritual growth of yourself or someone else, and hooks enumerates and then expands on the skills needed to practice love: care, affection, recognition, respect, commitment, trust, and open and honest communication.[2]  Love is not a mushy feeling that makes us moon over a romantic interest. Not unlike our “Faith is a verb,” love is an action, it calls us to action, and can only occur when respect, trust, honesty are present.

In our garden-themed spring worship, we are celebrating our respect, commitment, and love of Creation. We will continue that at least through May 20, Pentecost Sunday, when we will dedicate our new landscaping in an outdoor worship service followed by a potluck meal. Please bring a side or dessert to share. And wear Pentecostal picnic clothes!

 May you love God so much, you love nothing else too much.        Peace, Pastor Tony

[1] Leonardo Boff, Christianity in a Nutshell, Phillip Berryman, transl. (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2013). Quote is from pg. 10.

[2] bell hooks, All About Love: New Visions, (NY: William Morrow, 2001).

Jubilee USA Update

Link for sharing:

April 24, 2018

UN Forum Wrestles with Economic Policies 10 Years After Financial Crisis

Islands Call for Debt Relief Ahead of Next Hurricane Season

New York City - Officials from governments, the IMF, World Bank, the private sector and NGOs meet this week at the United Nations for the Financing for Development (FFD) Forum. The annual gathering seeks to implement the Addis Ababa Action Agenda that governments endorsed in 2015 in Ethiopia. 

"These meetings are critical to address the root causes of poverty and raise revenue in the developing world," said Jubilee USA Executive Director Eric LeCompte. LeCompte has participated in FFD negotiations since 2012. "Better policies on tax, debt, trade and transparency issues are critical for lifting people out of poverty."

During the forum, public statements and private negotiations focus on new debt relief processes for Caribbean and small islands ahead of the next hurricane season. Islands from Dominica to Barbuda are still recovering from the 2017 hurricane season.

"There is growing consensus among a number of decision making bodies to put in place permanent debt relief processes to protect small islands when that are hit by natural disasters," noted Eric LeCompte who supported similar processes at the IMF. "We must all act quickly as the next hurricane season begins in just a few weeks."

Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations and 650 faith communities working with 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee USA builds an economy that serves, protects and promotes the participation of the most vulnerable. Jubilee USA wins critical global financial reforms and won more than $130 billion in debt relief to benefit the world's poorest people.


Available for interview: Eric LeCompte, Executive Director

Contact: Lydia Andrews, Deputy Director / (o) (202) 783-3566 x109 / (m) (847)772-2305


Faith is a Verb… Musings by Pastor Tony April 13, 2018

Faith is a Verb…       Musings by Pastor Tony                            April 13, 2018

We, the members and friends of Arlington Community Church, are called to be stewards of creation and build a just society based upon the inspiration of our faith.

This coming Sunday after worship we will discuss and vote on a new Vision and Mission Statement. The statement itself (see below), is the outcome of the New Beginnings process that we started two years ago. After those initial discussions, two small groups met to determine whether the mission and social justice things we were already doing were things we wanted to continue to do, and to discern if there was something else we wanted to do. Any new ideas would be taken to the congregation for a discussion and vote on our direction in mission and social justice.

What emerged was the desire to maintain our relationships with GRIP, Neighborhood House of North Richmond, the Emergency Food Pantry in Richmond, and the Contra Costa-Solana Food Bank, as well as a desire to be better stewards of the environment. Following our unanimous vote to become a solar church, and sparked by the passion of our Music Director, Shanti Moorjani, we realized that our congregation’s concern for our Earth could be a new beginning for us.  

From there we took core pieces of each of those group’s work and put them together in a Vision and Mission Statement. The Vision Statement (see the top of this article)  captures the three main things we see in ourselves today: We care for the environment, we work toward justice, and we are a community of faith. A lovely three-leaf clover of Environment, Justice, Faith, uniting in one statement why we do what we do, where our passions lie, and what our priorities are.  

This Vision and Mission statement is to remind us who we are and to encourage others to join us. It will also be used as part of the application process toward becoming designated a “Creation Justice” church by our denomination.  Please join us on Sunday after worship to discuss and vote on this proposed Vision and Mission Statement

Vision and Mission Statement to be voted on April 15, 2018

Arlington Community Church United Church of Christ

Vision We, the members and friends of Arlington Community Church, are called to be stewards of creation and to build a just society based upon the inspiration of our faith.


We believe that all life is dependent upon our planet; therefore, we seek justice for the planet and all of its inhabitants by speaking up for its well-being.

We encourage asking the question at every decision point, “Is this good for the Planet?”

We support the Person of the Planet program, which builds awareness about environmental issues, and calls us individually and corporately to make changes in our lives.

We seek the designation in the United Church of Christ as a “Creation Justice Congregation.”

We believe that each and every one of us is equally loved and affirmed in God’s sight as a valuable human being. We pray and work to remove barriers and foster reconciliation among ourselves and people everywhere. Led by the Holy Spirit, we listen to and learn from one another.

We are Open and Affirming of all persons moved to join in our spiritual journey regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, abilities, or other God-given differences, visible or invisible. We thank God for our diversity.

We address the structural causes of poverty and inequality in our communities and in countries around the world; for example, by joining Jubilee USA Network, we work with people of many faiths to build an economy that protects and promotes the participation of the most vulnerable.

We serve others by partnering with agencies that feed the hungry and work with the poor.

We work toward accessibility for each person by removing physical barriers to participation including lighting, enlarged print, hearing assistance, ramps and handrails.

We are called to be the Church: to protect the environment, care for the poor, forgive often, reject racism, fight for the powerless, share earthly and spiritual resources, embrace diversity, love God, and enjoy this life.